Health  

Nigeria intensifies push for polio eradication by July

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole (left); Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Muhammad; and other members of the Nigerian delegation (standing at the back) as the Minister took his turn to sign a new global declaration made by African leaders on “Universal access to immunization as a cornerstone for health and development,” made at the African Union (AU) headquarters, Ethiopia, at the weekend.                                                                                                                                  PHOTO: EMEKA ANUFORO

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole (left); Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Muhammad; and other members of the Nigerian delegation (standing at the back) as the Minister took his turn to sign a new global declaration made by African leaders on “Universal access to immunization as a cornerstone for health and development,” made at the African Union (AU) headquarters, Ethiopia, at the weekend. PHOTO: EMEKA ANUFORO

• Reaches 55m children with oral vaccine in
nationwide campaign
•Joins global preparations for switch from trivalent to bivalent version in April 2016
• Records outbreak of meningitis in towns bordering Niger Republic
• Africa nears Meningitis A elimination through
vaccination, reaching over 235m people
• Country, seven others apply for funding to include MenAfriVac as part of national programmess in 2016
*To immunise 70m people from ages one to 29

The federal government through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) over the weekend intensified efforts at maintaining polio-free status and getting the World Health Organisation (WHO) certification by July 25, 2016, with at nationwide campaign targeting 55 million children under the age of five.

The National Immunization Days (NIDs) were planned from February 27 to March 1, and from March 19 to 22, both using trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV).

In Lagos, the vaccinators were seen over the weekend traversing the nook and crannies of the city since Saturday, visiting mosques, churches, market places and playing ground to give the children three drops of the oral polio vaccine.

Executive Director NPHCDA, Dr. Ado Gana Muhammad, told The Guardian yesterday in a telephone chat that the vaccinator in some areas are also administering the measles vaccines to compliment the nationwide polio campaign.

Muhammad said the country has not had any outbreak of Meningitis A since 2012 but has recently had small outbreak of Meningitis C in towns bordering Niger Republic.

He, however, said there has been mop up vaccination to address the situation and that the country plans to introduce the meningitis vaccination into the routine immunization programme.

Muhammad also told The Guardian at the Meningitis Vaccine Project closure conference in Addis Abba recently that Nigeria is to immunize about 70 million people between the ages of one to 29, as the country plans to introduce meningitis A vaccine into its routine immunization programme.

Muhammad said: “There is an ongoing nationwide polio campaign. We want to sustain the tempo of maintaining polio-free status to ensure high-level campaign. We are optimistic and confident that by July 25, the WHO will certify Nigeria to have eradicated polio.

“However, in some locations we are combining polio and measles vaccination. There were some areas were there was refusal of measles vaccines and some missed sites like in some northern states and Lagos.

“We are targeting to reach at least 55 million children aged under five with the polio vaccines. The measles vaccination is more like a complimentary programme, it is not nationwide and so I cannot easily tell you the number of children we hope to reach.”

According to the latest edition of Weekly Polio Update published by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), Nigeria has not recorded any new wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases in the past week. It noted: “No cases were reported in 2015. The most recent case had onset of paralysis on 24 July 2014 in Sumaila Local Government Area (LGA), southern Kano state.

“No new cases of type 2 circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV2) were reported in the past week. The most recent case had onset of paralysis in Kwali Local Government Area (LGA), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, with onset of paralysis on 16 May; this is the only cVDPV2 case reported in Nigeria in 2015.

“Vigilance must be maintained to ensure that all children are reached with polio vaccines and that surveillance systems remains alert to polioviruses.”

Meanwhile, 155 countries and territories including Nigeria are preparing for the removal of the type 2 components of the oral polio vaccine from use in April.

According to the GPEI, the world is fast approaching the largest globally synchronised project in the history of vaccines. Between 17 April and 1 May 2016, every country in with world using the oral polio vaccine (OPV) will switch from the trivalent vaccine (tOPV), which protects children against all three types of the virus, to the bivalent vaccine, which protects children against type one and three.

“Now that type two wild polio has been declared eradicated, this is an essential part of the work that needs to be done to secure a polio-free world by phasing out oral polio vaccines to prevent future outbreaks of vaccine-derived polioviruses,” the GPEI noted.

Meanwhile, the introduction of a vaccine, MenAfriVac®, designed, developed, and produced for use in Africa, has nearly eliminated serogroup A meningococcal disease from meningitis belt countries and is now being integrated into routine national immunization programmes.

Scientists at the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) Closure Conference reported yesterday that cases of the deadly infectious disease went from over 250,000 during an outbreak in 1996 to just 80 confirmed cases in 2015 among countries that had not yet conducted mass immunization campaigns and among those unvaccinated.

Eight countries have already applied for funding to include MenAfriVac® as part of their national childhood immunization programmess in the year 2016. The countries include: Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Sudan.

Global vaccine experts and officials from all 26 African “meningitis belt” countries had, last week, convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to celebrate one of Africa’s biggest public health achievements.

At the same time, they announced that eight countries have applied for funding to start integrating this lifesaving vaccine into their national childhood immunization programmes.



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